“I Pity the Fool” Cathy Byrd 9-10-17
In their seminal book “Boundaries”, published 25 years ago, Cloud and Townsend listed the ever-broadening, socially-expanded opportunities one encounters in life to learn to accept “no” from others that arise as one grows and puts up resistance to setting and respecting boundaries. It goes something like this, if I recall correctly.
Parents and other caregivers
Socially significant connections
Law enforcement, courts, judicial system
I will double check this list when I have access to my book again. This concept of the increasingly larger scope and more significant consequences that can occur as one refuses to accept boundaries, refusing “no”, at first one level, then another came up in discussion with a woman today.
We were talking about the ways in which she has violated the boundaries of everyone in her life for years. She does not acknowledge any health consequences of significance to her yet and she minimizes the significance of her brushes with law enforcement at this point.
She was pondering the value of a faith based program and whether or not she really wanted to submit to such a program, with all the “God stuff.” Since she had never been in rehab before, my opinion after our conversation was that, in all probably, she is not yet ready for the kind of transformational program offered by Titus 2. She has had, it appears, insufficient consequences in her life so far. Addiction has not yet taken the toll that would break her rebellion against the boundaries, against the “no” of others. She did acknowledge that she thought she had “bottomed out” with her last relapse, but discovered there was a lower level still waiting for her with this one. She has begun to have a nagging hint that there is a lower level that can still come with the prospect of the possibility of the loss of her children. That consequence teeters in the domain of law enforcement and the courts. I have seen this being the breaking point for a number of women in the past.
As I listened to her talk about her reluctance to accept a spiritual solution to her addictive issues, I realized that Cloud and Townsend had omitted the final irresistible boundary demand in one’s life- God. Each of us can choose to refuse the boundaries set by all of the other entities listed, one by one, until we get to God. God has boundaries. When all of the other entities have failed to inspire respect for boundaries and a willingness to accept the “no” of others, God will be the final brick wall of one’s drive toward rebellious self-destructive pride of life…. We will not scale that wall or knock it down. None of us will escape the consequences of refusing to accept God’s “no.”
Determining how far down this devolving list one has gone and how far she is prepared to go is not always so obvious, especially when she generally has such a poor perspective herself on how far she’s already gone, can be difficult. That becomes our job at Titus 2…..to help her see how far she’s gone, how much further one might have to go if she doesn’t sober up and learn the lesson of boundaries, and the fact there is one Entity whose “no” she will not forever resist.
There is even another realization that can sober her up quickly, too…….to realize that God has been present in each of these levels since conception and that he has sought to guide her at each one. When she refused to be guided, he allowed her to have her insistence on her own way at each level. God may allow the difficulty to increase as she declines level by level, but he will not violate one’s free will and make her accept him or his authority over each entity as one after another is disregarded. But in the end, we will finally have only the choice to accept God’s will. What God’s will is at that point will depend upon whether or not we acknowledged Christ and what we did with that knowledge.
It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
I do not want to encounter God’s boundaries unaware and unprepared. The image of a TV character just flashed before the eye of my mind …. “Mr. T” (Lawrence Tureaud)……. and his famous trademark catchphrase line, “I pity the fool!” When asked when and why he adopted the well-known trade name, “Mr. T”, he said this:
“I think about my father being called ‘boy’, my uncle being called ‘boy’, my brother, coming back from Vietnam and being called ‘boy’. So I questioned myself: “What does a black man have to do before he’s given the respect as a man?” So when I was 18 years old, when I was old enough to fight and die for my country, old enough to drink, old enough to vote, I said I was old enough to be called a man. I self-ordained myself Mr. T so the first word out of everybody’s mouth is “Mr.” That’s a sign of respect that my father didn’t get, that my brother didn’t get, that my mother didn’t get.”
One may deny God. One may disregard God. One may denigrate God. One may dishonor God. One may defame God. But in the end each will stand before him and our human will is going to defer to God’s will or we will face a level of destruction in the midst of consequences we will have never anticipated.